Five Killed In Somalia After Jihadists Attack Hotel

Al-Shabaab — allied to Al-Qaeda — was forced out of the Somali capital in 2011 but still controls parts of the countryside and continues to launch attacks in Mogadishu.

 

Five people including three civilians were killed when jihadist militants stormed a hotel in Somalia’s capital, police said Wednesday, adding that all five attackers had also died after an hours-long siege.

The attack on Tuesday evening, claimed by the Islamist group al-Shabaab, took place at a hotel in Mogadishu popular with politicians, army officers and diplomats.

“Our brave security forces ended the terror attack on SYL hotel rescuing more than 80 people” including government officials and hotel guests, police said in a statement.

“The number of the dead we have confirmed is five, among them two members of the security forces and three civilians. Nine other civilians and two soldiers were also wounded slightly”.

Several witnesses told AFP that the assailants were dressed in police uniform, which allowed them to approach the hotel without arousing suspicion.

They then opened fire and threw grenades, triggering an armed response from security forces guarding checkpoints leading to the nearby presidential palace.

After several hours of siege, police killed the two last attackers holed up inside the hotel, which has suffered three previous deadly attacks, all claimed by al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab posted a statement online saying it had carried out an operation “which happened as planned”, but gave no further details.

The police statement said the attack was carried out “by five people who have been sent by the terrorists to threaten the Somali public and all of them were killed”.

No car bomb

Al-Shabaab — allied to Al-Qaeda — was forced out of the Somali capital in 2011 but still controls parts of the countryside and continues to launch attacks in Mogadishu.

The group often strikes the most prominent hotels and restaurants, and has also staged attacks in neighbouring Kenya.

The SYL hotel is close to the main entrance of the Villa Somalia government complex, a high-security area that includes the presidential palace, the prime minister’s office and ministry buildings.

Unusually for an al-Shabaab attack, the jihadists did not use a car bomb to try and blast through the hotel’s exterior wall, said police officer Suleyman Adan.

“It appears that the attackers have changed their tactics. It was easy for them to disguise themselves and enter the building,” he added,

Adan said that a large number of hotel guests had been quickly evacuated by police through the hotel’s service doors and emergency exits.

Witnesses described scenes of panic and confusion as the attack began.

“I was close to the hotel when the gunfire broke out and we managed to turn our vehicle swiftly,” said Abdukadir Ahmed.

“The security forces around the palace checkpoints were firing heavy machine-guns but we don’t exactly know who was fighting who.”

Another witness, Ali Moalim Nur, told AFP that one of his friends who escaped the hotel had suffered a fracture after jumping off a wall.

In January 2015, five people were killed when a suicide car bomber rammed the gates of the same hotel on the eve of a visit by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In February 2016, twin blasts set off close to the SYL hotel and the neighbouring Peace Garden killed 14 people.

Then in August of the same year, a suicide car bomb attack on the hotel killed 15 people.

 

AFP

Climate Change Amplifies Conflicts, Hinders Peacebuilding In Somalia – Report

AFP photo

 

 

Climate change poses serious challenges to current and future peacebuilding efforts and can amplify conflicts, according to a report on years of devastating violence and drought in Somalia released Wednesday.

Researchers at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) looked at how conflicts and the peacebuilding efforts of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) have been affected by climate change, and found that it “amplifies existing challenges and strengthens radical groups”.

“What it shows is that the security landscape is changing with climate change,” Florian Krampe, senior researcher at SIPRI’s climate change programme, told AFP, adding that many of the findings are applicable to other conflicts.

READ ALSO: Police Recover 39 Bodies In Container Near London

According to the report, decades of conflict in Somalia — described as “among the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world” — have been magnified by a series of severe droughts, which adds pressure to the country’s state-building process and makes UNSOM’s work more challenging in a number of ways.

For instance, the frequency and severity of conflicts between herders and farmers in the country’s rural regions have increased as changing seasons and weather means herding nomads have to adjust their routes.

Droughts and floods also displace more people, who seek shelter in camps which then serve as recruitment grounds for radical groups like al-Shabaab.

The displacement of large groups into new areas can also undermine the governance of those areas, as existing power-sharing agreements no longer represent the “demographic composition” on the ground.

While Krampe was hesitant to say that climate change by itself could cause conflict, he thought the evidence was clear that “climate change increases the probability of conflict and of violence”.

According to the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR, some 2.6 million people are currently internally displaced in Somalia and more than 800,000 remain displaced in neighbouring countries as a result of armed conflicts and recurring droughts.

AFP

US Re-Opens Embassy In Somalia After 30 Years

This aerial view taken on September 19, 2019, shows Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. Tina SMOLE / AFP

 

 

The United States said Wednesday it had re-opened an embassy in Somalia’s capital, 28 years after it was shut as the country plunged into civil war, highlighting warming ties between the two nations. 

Washington closed its embassy during the 1991 overthrow of president Siad Barre’s military regime which ushered in decades of chaos, however, diplomatic relations have strengthened in recent years.

“Today we reaffirm the relations between the American people and the Somali people and our two nations,” said Ambassador Donald Yamamoto in a statement.

“It is a significant and historic day that reflects Somalia’s progress in recent years, and another step forward in regularising U.S. diplomatic engagement in Mogadishu since recognising the federal government of Somalia in 2013.”

A permanent diplomatic presence was established in Mogadishu in December 2018, however, was operated out of Nairobi.

The country continues to be wracked by an Islamist insurgency, and Al-Shabaab militants on Monday staged an attack on a military base that is a major launching site for US drone operations, as well as a European Union convoy.

US strikes in Somalia surged in April 2017, after President Donald Trump declared the south of the country an “area of active hostilities”.

“The United States remains a strong partner to Somalia in its effort to build a stable, credible, and democratic country,” said the statement.

AFP

Al-Shabaab Attacks US Base, EU Convoy In Somalia

Somalia Election: Mohamed Abdullahi Emerges As President

 

The Al-Shabaab militant group claimed responsibility for an attack on a US base in Somalia on Monday, as the European Union confirmed a separate strike against a convoy of Italian advisers.

The militants struck the US base at Baledogle, about 110 kilometres (70 miles) northwest of the capital Mogadishu, with explosives before gunmen opened fire on the compound.

In a statement, Al-Shabaab said: “In the early hours of Monday morning, an elite unit of soldiers… launched a daring raid on the US military base”.

“After breaching the perimeters of the heavily fortified base, the Mujahideen (holy fighters) stormed the military complex, engaging the crusaders in an intense firefight.”

The Shabaab claimed they had killed dozens in the attack, however the US Mission to Somalia and a Somali military official said there were no casualties.

“We already had the information about the attackers and simply repelled them before they reached our defence barriers. There was no casualty inflicted on our soldiers or on the US soldiers in the base,” the military official said on condition of anonymity.

Witnesses in the Baledogle area said that a heavy exchange of gunfire after the initial explosion had ended.

“We cannot hear any fighting for some hours now but… the whole area around the base is being patrolled by American military helicopters,” said Abdullahi Osman, a witness.

The US Mission to Somalia denied Al-Shabaab fighters penetrated the camp’s defences, saying that Somali security forces repelled the attack.

“The security forces stopped this ultimately failed attack due to their alertness and swift response, not allowing the attackers to breach the outer defensive perimeters of the base,” the mission said in a statement.

“We are thankful that there were no SNA (Somali National Army) casualties between the multiple attacks.”

Baledogle is a major launching site for US drone operations against Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda-linked group which controls large parts of Somalia, and the Islamic State in Somalia outfit.

“Two heavy explosions occurred, the first one bigger than the other. There was also a heavy exchange of gunfire after the blasts but we don’t know about the details,” Mohamed Adan, a Somali elder close to the scene of the attack, told AFP by phone.

Car bomb hits convoy 

In a separate incident on Monday, a security official said EU advisers training the Somali National Army were attacked by a car bomb in Mogadishu.

“There was a car bomb targeting the EU military advisors along the industrial road. A vehicle loaded with explosives was rammed into one of the convoy vehicles,” said Omar Abikar, a Somali security officer.

A statement from the EU Training Mission in Somalia confirmed the convoy had been “hit by an explosion” while returning from the army headquarters.

“No EUTM-S soldiers were injured in the explosion. Two vehicles sustained damage,” read the statement.

The mission offers military advice and provides training to Somalia’s army, still propped up by some 20,000 African peacekeepers as the country recovers from decades of civil war and an Islamist insurgency.

Italy’s defence ministry confirmed that two armoured vehicles in an Italian convoy “were involved in an explosion,” adding that so far “there have been no consequences for Italian soldiers”.

SITE Intelligence, which monitors jihadist activities worldwide, said Al-Shabaab had claimed responsibility for both attacks.

The US Africa Command, AFRICOM, said in a brief statement emailed to AFP that it was “monitoring the situation. We are working to confirm details on the incident.”

Baledogle is a Soviet-built base which, despite secrecy surrounding US operations in Somalia, has emerged as one of the bases from where they carry out their strikes.

US strikes in Somalia surged in April 2017, after President Donald Trump declared the south of the country an “area of active hostilities”. The rate of air strikes has risen sharply this year.

In an April statement AFRICOM said it had killed more than 800 people in 110 air strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

Monday’s attacks are the latest in a long line of bombing and assaults claimed by Al-Shabaab.

The jihadists were driven out of Mogadishu by government forces backed by 20,000 African Union peacekeepers in 2011. But they still carry out attacks including suicide bombings against government and international targets.

AFP

Somali President Signs Anti-Corruption Law

President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed gathers with Somalians at Sandton Convention Centre during his visit in Johannesburg, South Africa on May 27, 2019. Hassan Isilow / Anadolu Agency

 

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Saturday signed an anti-graft bill into law, a long-awaited piece of legislation in one of the world’s most corrupt nations.

The president, better known by his nickname Farmajo, came into office in 2017 vowing to combat the scourge which permeates evert aspect of life.

The new law will pave the way for the formation of independent anti-corruption commissions both on the federal and regional level, according to a statement from the president’s office.

“Corruption is worse than cancer because cancer kills only the individual, but corruption kills the whole society. I hope those who will be selected to be members of the committees will be decent, religious and patriotic,” the president said in a statement released Saturday after the signature.

In 2018, Somalia fell in last place in Transparency International’s perception of corruption index, and graft has hampered efforts to rebuild the nation after decades of chaos including civil war and an Islamist insurgency.

Farmajo’s government is keen to improve its image and win the confidence of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in a bid to secure formal debt relief.

“Good governance is the responsibility of the government and we are mandated to improve the different levels of the government. It is true that all cannot be corrected at once since the country was in chaos for so long, and that chaos created bad cultures in our society.”

AFP

Zimbabwe End ‘Brave’ Somalia’s 2022 World Cup Dream

The official logo of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is unveiled on a giant screen in Madrid on September 3, 2019.
GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

African football minnows Somalia were eliminated from 2022 World Cup qualifying Tuesday after a dramatic 3-1 loss to Zimbabwe in Harare.

Zimbabwe qualified for the second round 3-2 on aggregate thanks to a stoppage-time goal from star forward Khama Billiat, who plays for South African club Kaizer Chiefs.

Somalia, who must play home matches in fellow east African country Djibouti because of an unstable security situation in Mogadishu, took a 1-0 lead into the first round second leg.

READ ALSO: Euro Qualifier: UEFA Investigates French For Delayed Albania Kick Off

The victorious first-leg team included Mohamud Ali, who combines playing sixth-tier football in England with working as a driving instructor in Manchester.

Somalia, the equal lowest-ranked national team in Africa with Eritrea, had looked set to win a World Cup tie for the first time when they equalised in Harare with seven minutes remaining.

The goal from Omar Abdullah Mohamed gave the Somalis a 2-1 aggregate advantage and left Zimbabwe needing at least two goals to avoid a shock elimination.

Knox Mutizwa got the first of the two direct from a free-kick with four minutes left and Billiat rifled a shot over the goalkeeper two minutes into stoppage time.

Marshall Munetsi had set up the dramatic finish by putting Zimbabwe ahead on 77 minutes with a spectacular overhead kick when the Somalis failed to clear a corner.

Overall success was a massive relief for new Zimbabwe coach Joey Antipas, who last month inherited a team that fared poorly at the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

After losing narrowly to the host nation, Zimbabwe drew with Uganda and was hammered by the Democratic Republic of Congo to make a first-round exit.

AFP

Xenophobia: Somalia Asks South African Government To Protect Citizens

A man kicks a burning piece of furniture during a riot in the Johannesburg suburb of Turffontein on September 2, 2019 as angry protesters loot alleged foreign-owned shops today in a new wave of violence targeting foreign nationals. Michele Spatari / AFP

 

Somalia on Thursday called on the South African government to protect its citizens in the country as a wave of attacks targets foreigners and their businesses.

Seven people have been killed and dozens of shops destroyed in xenophobic violence in and around Johannesburg this week — a recurring trend that has often targeted Somalis.

READ ALSO: Ramaphosa Vows To Intensify War On Rape, Murder Of Women

“The Somali government is keeping an eye on the violence in South Africa where members of the Somali community, mainly traders, have been attacked and suffered both death and injury in recent years,” read a statement from the information ministry.

“The Somali government is deeply concerned about the looting and eviction of its citizens and their businesses and requests the South African government protect and guarantee the safety of the Somali citizens and their property.”

Immigrants from Nigeria as well as Somalia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and South Asia flock to work in South Africa, one of the continent’s premier economies.

But South Africa has seen waves of xenophobic violence as foreigners are accused of taking jobs away from South Africans, against the backdrop of increasing poverty and unemployment.

In 2008, xenophobic violence left 62 people dead, while in 2015, seven were killed in attacks in Johannesburg and Durban.

AFP

26 Killed In Deadly Somalia Hotel Siege

A man passes in front of the rubbles of the popular Medina hotel of Kismayo on July 13, 2019, a day after the attack. AFP Photos.

 

Twenty-six people were killed and 56 injured in a 12-hour attack by Al-Shabaab jihadists on a popular hotel that ended early Saturday in the southern Somali port city of Kismayo.

A suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into the Medina hotel on Friday before several heavily armed gunmen forced their way inside, shooting as they went, authorities said.

It was the largest coordinated attack by the Shabaab in Kismayo since 2012 when it lost control of the city.

The victims included several foreigners and a prominent Somali-Canadian journalist, Nodan Halayeh, who perished along with her husband.

Three Kenyans, three Tanzanians, two Americans, one Briton and one Canadian were among the dead, president Ahmed Mohamed Islam of the semi-autonomous Jubaland region told a news conference.

“There are also two wounded Chinese citizens,” he added.

The hotel was packed with politicians and prominent businessmen as meetings were underway for upcoming presidential elections in Jubaland, due in August.

One of the candidates in the election died in the siege, local authorities said.

‘Martyrdom attack’

“The whole building is in ruins, there are dead bodies and wounded who have been recovered from inside. The security forces have cordoned off the whole area,” said witness Muna Abdirahman.

Another witness Hussein Muktar said, “The blast was very big.”

“The security forces are in control now and the last terrorist was shot and killed”, security official Mohamed Abdiweli said.

“There are dead bodies and wounded people strewn inside the hotel,” Abdiweli added.

He said authorities believed four gunmen, who one witness described as wearing Somali police uniforms, were involved in the attack.

Halayeh’s death sparked an outpouring of grief on social media.

She was an ardent campaigner for Somali unity and peace and had started an online TV show named Integration.

In a recent podcast, Nalayeh said her television programme about the Somali diaspora gave the community a voice.

“Social media has changed the game for how people learn about culture. So, if we don’t become the creators of our own content, we are going to be at the mercy of other people telling the stories of Africa,” she had said.

A local journalist, Mohamed Omar Sahal, also died in the siege, the Somali journalists’ union SJS said, adding that these were the first journalist deaths in the country this year.

Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda-linked group, claimed responsibility for the siege describing it as “a martyrdom attack”.

The US Mission to Somalia condemned the attack and said it would “continue to work with our Somali and other international partners in the fight against violent extremism.”

‘Criminal, murderous, destructive’

The African Union’s Special Representative in Somalia, Francisco Madeira, said the attack was “meant to derail progress in Somalia as the country rebuilds and consolidates the gains made on peace and security.

“The attackers are a group of people with a criminal, murderous and destructive agenda. They cannot claim to be fighting to bring good governance to the country,” he said.

The attack is the latest in a long line of bombing and assaults claimed by Shabaab, which has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.

The militant group emerged from Islamic Courts that once controlled central and southern Somalia and are variously estimated to number between 5,000 and 9,000 men.

In 2010, the Shabaab declared their allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

In 2011, they fled positions they once held in the capital Mogadishu, and have since lost many strongholds.

But they retain control of large rural swathes of the country and continue to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities.

AFP

Several Dead In Somalia Hotel Attack

Somalia Election: Mohamed Abdullahi Emerges As President

 

A bomb and gun attack claimed by Al-Shabaab militants on a hotel in Somalia’s port city of Kismayo left several people dead Friday, security forces and witnesses said.

“Several people died and many more are injured but we don’t have the exact number of the fatalities so far because there is still a rescue operation going on,” said security official Abdiweli Mohamed.

A suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into the popular hotel in the southern town before several heavily armed gunmen forced their way inside, shooting as they went, he said.

“The blast rocked the popular Medina hotel formerly known as Cascasey which is located in downtown Kismayo,” said Mohamed.

“Several gunmen entered and started shooting but the security forces responded quickly and engaged in a gunfight with the terrorists inside the building,” he added.

Witnesses said among those killed was a well-known social media activist, her husband and a local journalist.

“The blast was very big,” said witness Hussein Muktar.

“There is chaos inside, I saw several dead bodies carried from the scene and people are fleeing from the nearby buildings,” added Muktar.

“The relatives of a local journalist Mohamed Sahal confirmed his death and I’m getting that social media activist Hodan Naleye and her husband also died in the blast,” another witness, Ahmed Farhan, said.

Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.

“Mujahidin fighters carried out a martyrdom attack on one of the hotels accommodating the apostate officials of the Jubaland administration,” an autonomous southern zone in the troubled country whose main city is Kismayo, the group said.

According to several sources, most of those staying in the hotel were politicians and traders ahead of upcoming regional elections.

Nine Civilians Killed In Somalia Revenge Attack Police

Somalia Election: Mohamed Abdullahi Emerges As President

 

Nine civilians were executed by a local militia in war-torn Somalia after the killing of a policeman by the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, police said Saturday.

The revenge attack on Friday just outside Galkayo — one of the most developed cities in the centre of the country — targeted the Rahanweyn clan, several of whose members are suspected of being Shabaab fighters.

“This was a horrible incident, a gruesome killing against nine unarmed innocent civilians in southern Galkayo. All of the civilians belong to one clan and the gunmen shot them dead in one location a few minutes after suspected Shabaab gunmen killed” a policeman, Mohamed Abdirahman, a local police official said.

“This is an unacceptable act and we will bring those perpetrators to justice,” said Hussein Dini, a traditional elder.

“Their killing cannot be justified. It seems that the merciless gunmen were retaliating for the security official who they believe was killed by Al-Shabaab gunmen belonging to the clan of the victims.”

Witnesses told local media that the victims were rounded up from the streets or their homes and then shot dead on the outskirts of Galkayo.

Local officials have in the past fingered the Rahanweyn clan for fomenting instability in the region and supplying fighters to the Shabaab.

The local militia which staged the revenge attack are from the Saad Habargidir, a sub-clan of the Hawiye group which is dominant in the southern part of the city.

Galkayo, situated about 600 kilometres (380 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu, straddles the frontier with the self-proclaimed autonomous regions of Puntland and Galmudug.

The city has been the scene of violent clashes between forces of the two regions in recent years and also witnessed violence between the two rival clans occupying its northern and southern districts.

15 Killed As Bomb Hits Restaurant In Somalia

 

At least 15 people died when a bomb exploded on a busy street and ripped into a nearby restaurant in Somalia’s capital on Thursday, medics said.

Security officials and witnesses reported bodies strewn on the ground as plumes of smoke rose high into the air after the bomb detonated on Mogadishu’s Maka Al-Mukarama road, one of the seaside capital’s main thoroughfares, an area busy with businesses and travellers.

It struck as people were eating lunch.

Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adan, director of the Aamin Ambulance service, said that 15 people had been killed, as well as several more wounded by the ferocious blast.

Witnesses described scenes of devastation.

“The car bomb struck a restaurant along the road,” said Abdulahi Osman, who was nearby to the explosion. “This really was a disaster.”

Vehicles were tossed into the air by the blast, which also damaged surrounding buildings. Witnesses said several cars and three-wheeler motorbikes were destroyed by the force of the explosion.

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“I saw 16 people carried from the blast scene — and more than 10 of them were already dead,” Osman added.

Ambulance workers rushed in to help take the wounded to hospital.

“I don’t know whether they were dead or wounded, but I could see several people strewn in the street — some of them were motionless,” said Suado Ahmed, another witness who was at the scene moments after the blast.

Teams of ambulance workers carried away those killed and wounded on stretchers, while volunteers also helped by using plastic sheeting to lift the bodies away.

The bombing is the latest in a recent string of blasts in Mogadishu, which has been hit regularly by Al- Shabaab attacks.

At least four people were killed earlier this week in three blasts, including car bombs and roadside explosions.

There was no immediate claim of responsiblity for Thursday’s bombing.

However, Mogadishu is a target of the Al-Qaeda affiliated Shabaab insurgents, who have been fighting for over a decade to topple the government.

Shabaab fighters fled fixed positions they once held in Mogadishu in 2011, and have since lost many of their strongholds.

But they retain control of large rural swathes of the country, and continue to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities.

On Saturday, Shabaab gunmen attacked a complex housing government ministries in Mogadishu, killing 11 people including the deputy labour minister.

The Shabaab continue to strike at the heart of Somalia’s government, despite years of foreign military support.

AFP

Deputy Minister, Others Killed In Somalia Terrorist Attack

somalia
file photo

 

Five people were killed including a deputy minister on Saturday after Al-Shabaab militants stormed government buildings in Somalia’s capital, a witness and a senator told AFP.

“I saw the dead bodies of four people, one of them in police uniform,” said witness Abdulahi Mohamed.

Senator Ilyas Ali Hassan named the deceased minister as Saqar Ibrahim Abdalla, who was killed separately.

The attack began with twin bombings of the complex housing Somalia’s ministries of works and labour, which were then stormed by the Shabaab.

READ ALSO: Boko Haram: Chad Fires Military Chief Over Death Of 23 Soldiers

Police official Ibrahim Mohamed said the attack ended after police killed four gunmen.

“There were some other casualties including members of the police,” he said, without elaborating.

The attack also left at least 11 people wounded, according to Abdukadir Abdirahman Adan, director of the Aamin ambulance service in the capital Mogadishu.

Shortly after the assault began, Al-Shabaab issued a statement claiming credit.

Attacks that combine bombings with gunmen have become a speciality of the Al-Qaeda linked group, which is fighting an armed insurrection in Somalia against what it sees as heretic and foreign influence.

Earlier this month, at least 20 people died in an attack in Mogadishu which saw Al-Shabaab jihadists battling security forces for nearly 24 hours.

AFP